PetroChina Surpasses Exxon In Oil Production

May 2012, Vol. 239 No. 5

Image: PetroChina.

ExxonMobil is no longer the world's biggest publicly traded producer of oil. For the first time, that distinction belongs to PetroChina, a company created by Beijing in 1999 to secure more oil for China’s booming economy.

PetroChina announced March 28 that it pumped 2.4 MM/bpd in 2011, surpassing Exxon by 100,000. The company has grown rapidly over the last decade by squeezing more from China's aging fields and outspending Western companies to acquire more petroleum reserves in places like Canada, Iraq and Qatar. Output rose 3.3% in 2011 while Exxon's fell 5%. Exxon oil production also fell behind Russia’s Rosneft.

Analysts told the Associated Press that Western oil firms like ExxonMobil are more conservative than the Chinese, mindful of their bottom line and investor returns. With oil prices up 19% in 2011, they still made money without increasing production.

Beijing owns 86% of PetroChina’s stock. China’s appetite for gasoline and other petroleum products is projected to double between 2010-2035.
Exxon remains the biggest publicly traded energy company when counting combined output of oil and natural gas. PetroChina ranks third behind Exxon and BP in total output of oil and natural gas.